DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Loretta Ann Rosales better close her mouth and not talk about what is ethical or unethical when it comes to fighting rice smuggling in the country.
“What ethics are you talking about? Go tell that to the smugglers. Tell the smugglers they are unethical for causing the government to lose billions in taxes,” Duterte told Rosales.
The CHR chief earlier criticized Duterte for being unethical and “unbecoming of a public official” in declaring war against rice smugglers by using lethal force.
“If you do not stop smuggling rice into my city, I will kill you,” said Duterte, whose help was reportedly sought by President Aquino.
But Rosales said Duterte’s role is to ensure good governance and not to kill people.
The CHR said it would send Duterte a formal letter to counter his sentiments.
Marc Titus Cebreros, chief of the CHR information and communication division, echoed Rosales’ statement that Duterte’s warning is unethical, although it is not a human rights violation in itself.
“It’s unbecoming of a public official like him. It gives the impression that we are not living under a government of laws,” said Cebreros.
He added that the CHR letter to Duterte aims to make the mayor know that there is something wrong with his statement.
Duterte’s office said it has not yet received the letter.
Willing to go to jail
Duterte also hit back at Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. for saying that no one is above the law, still in connection with the warning that he issued against rice smugglers.
Coloma said law enforcement agencies should step up the campaign against smuggling of rice and other goods without resorting to illegal means.
But Duterte said he does not mind going to jail for killing rice smugglers for as long as the interest of local farmers is protected.